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It's Not Just Popcorn!

It’s Not Just For Christmas Fudge

(I am reposting this from a few years ago, still LOVE this fudge!)

I used to make this recipe for fudge quite a bit for the holidays when I worked at WLNY in New York. I remember CJ asking for it quite a bit! It’s simple and pretty fool-proof. I could eat the whole pan if it were left in my vicinity! Fudge is good anytime of year not just at the holidays so make a batch today and take a break from the diet. If you are allergic to nuts, leave them out. Have fun!

INGREDIENTS:

3 (6 oz.) packages semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 cup chopped walnuts (or other favorite nut)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Line an 8″ square baking pan with waxed paper or aluminum foil.

2. In a heavy two-quart saucepan, combine chocolate chips, condensed milk and salt.

3. Cook over low heat until chips melt. Remove from heat. Stir in nuts and vanilla.

4. Spread mixture evenly into lined pan. Refrigerate for two hours or until firm. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Makes 36 pieces

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Strufoli (Italian honey balls)

 This is a reposting of a previous blog from last year! Still a timeless treat no matter what the holiday is, and this time it’s for Easter! So give them a try! They are not hard to make, honest!!

This is a recipe that my grandmother (Nana) used to make for us years ago, usually around Easter. Though they are good at any time of the year for any occasion. The first time I made these it took me forever to roll each little ball. Then I talked to my Italian Aunt Rosie about making them and she laughed when I told her I rolled each little ball individually. She said that took way too long! She told me to roll the dough into long strips like giant pretzel rods and just cut them! Simple! These little honey balls are really good and bring back so many childhood memories. They stay fresh for a very long time and you can even freeze them for another time! (Without the honey of course!) They really are simple to make and always a hit.

Strufoli (Honey Balls)

INGREDIENTS:

4 eggs

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

2½ cups flour

½ cup honey

vegetable oil

colored nonpareil (confetti)

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, and butter. Add flour, 1 cup at a time. The last ½ cup of flour can be added if necessary to make a smooth dough. Let dough stay in bowl, covered with a dish, for ½ hour.

2. Roll out portions of dough. Cut dough into strips, rounded like pretzels, then cut into ½-inch pieces.

3. Heat about 2½ inches of oil in the bottom of a pan or deep fryer. Fry the pieces of dough, a handful at a time. If you can do this in a frying basket, it will be easier to take them out. Place pieces on paper towels to drain.

4. Heat honey until just under the boiling point. Place strufoli in a bowl and drizzle honey over them, gently tossing. Arrange on a large platter and sprinkle with the nonpareil (confetti). You can shape into a mound on a large flat dish or into a wreath.


Makes about 150 little strufoli

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Easy Cranberry Sauce

I was never one to eat the canned, gelatinous cranberry sauce. Thought it was nasty. Still do actually. Especially with all that sugar in it!! So I searched my recipes and came up with a combination of a few. It’s very simple, really. I had bought a few bags of fresh cranberries before Thanksgiving because they were on sale and couldn’t pass up the BOGO special. I have another bag left and I think I’ll make another batch to freeze. 

Last night I made my Thanksgiving Bundles and we had no sauce so I made this recipe. So easy and so tasty! Oh and revisit my  Thanksgiving Bundles post as I updated the photos. 

INGREDIENTS:

1 bag fresh cranberries

1 cup water

1 cup Splenda (or other sucralose sweetener)

1 teaspoon fresh orange zest

1 small apple (any kind) peeled and finely chopped

1 cinnamon stick

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add the water and Splenda to a medium pot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add the cranberries and orange zest. Stir and bring to a boil again.
  3. Lower heat to simmer and add the apple and cinnamon stick.
  4. Simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove the cinnamon stick.
  5. I used a potato masher and just broke up some of the cranberries and apple pieces but you don’t have to do this.
  6. Remove from heat and cool. Chill a few hours before using, unless you like it warm!

That’s it! Simple. Just be careful when the cranberries start to pop. The splatter can be hot!

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Thanksgiving Leftovers: Thanksgiving Bundles

Anyone still hungry? Believe it or not, even after eating much more than normally yesterday, I woke up starving! Go figure! I hope everyone had a wonderful and thankful Thanksgiving yesterday! I am sure thankful for the wonderful family and friends we have. This Thanksgiving was spent with our wonderful friends Debbie & Bruce and their handsome bulldog Hudson. This was our 3rd Thanksgiving with them and as always there was lots of laughter, food and booze. Good friends are hard to find these days so when you are lucky enough to find some, hang on to them. We are so thankful we did! This year was a small group, only 5 of us, but you’d think we were feeding 10-15 with the amount of food! I guess we don’t know how to cook for a small group. Oh well, leftovers! Even though we didn’t cook at our own house we got leftovers to go. BUT if you did cook at your house and you have lots and lots of leftovers today’s recipe will give another option of what you can do with them.

I actually always buy a turkey this time of year, you can’t beat the sale price (.59 lb)! I keep it in the freezer till July and then we have a summer Thanksgiving. And this recipe came about from my summer Thanksgiving. I am going to call it Thanksgiving Bundles. It is a cross between a pot pie, a mini calzone or some kind of pierogi. Not sure exactly how to describe it. But those of you who follow my blog know I have become obsessed with the wonton wrappers. Soooo I came up with a stuffed wonton ala Thanksgiving. Though for this recipe I am not using the mini muffin tin. Too small. I used the regular muffin tin but then realized one of the mini wrappers was way too small so I used two wrappers per muffin cup. I just had them half in half out, with enough of the wrapper sticking over the sides so you can fold them over the top when you’re done stuffing! Came out incredible!

There is no real “recipe” for this. You can add whatever you want to your own bundles. But when I made them I had turkey, stuffing, gravy and my Smashed Cauliflower recipe. I didn’t have cranberry sauce but if I did I would have had it on the side. 

Ingredients:

Leftover turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, veggies

Directions:

Chop up the turkey into small pieces or shred.

Chop up any large veggies into small pieces.

Mix the turkey and veggies with the stuffing.

Add some gravy to the mixture to keep it moist. Mix well.

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.

In a regular muffin tin, lay two small wonton wrappers so half is in the tin and half hanging over the edge.

Fill the tin with the turkey mixture about 3/4 way full. Press down. Then on top of that place either mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes.

Fold the flaps over (don’t worry if they don’t fold perfectly) and spray a little cooking spray on top.

Bake at 350°F for about 10-15 minutes so everything is heated through.

Serve with cranberry sauce and extra gravy on the side! 

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Mary’s Famous Mexican Dip

Yes I know I have been quite negligent with my blog lately! I am so sorry everyone. I made a promise to myself this morning to do better and I will!

Today’s recipe I have tried to get for years! Everytime I visit my sister Michele in NJ for any type of party she always has this dip. Her mother-in-law Mary makes it and showed Michele and everyone falls in love with it! Even the kids! So on a recent trip there, Mary happened to be in attendance as well and the dip was on the menu. So with camera and notebook in hand I got it! FINALLY! It’s a type of layered dip that you serve on a platter. Serve it with tortilla chips. I would recommend using stronger chips as well because this dip has so many yummy things you don’t want to lose anything because of a broken chip! We’ve all been there, digging in to a great dip and snap! Broken chip. You try again. Snap again! Another broken chip. So find your best thicker/stronger chips for this recipe.  I am also playing with an idea to make this as an Italian dip as well. I’ll post that when I work it out! So for now, here’s everyone’s newest favorite party snack! Thanks Mary!! (Now I want to go and make some to snack on!)

Mary preparing the famous dip!

Ingredients:

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese (you can use light cream cheese if you wish)

1  jar (16oz.) of your favorite salsa

Shredded lettuce, about 2 cups

Shredded cheddar cheese, about 8 ounces

3-4 campari or plum tomatoes, chopped (Or you can use 1-2 large)

3-4 scallions, chopped (use whole scallion)

¼ cup jalapeño slices

1 small can sliced black olives (You can use green if you don’t like black)

So pretty!

Directions:

  1. On a large platter spread cream cheese to cover bottom.
  2. Spread salsa over the cream cheese.
  3. Add shredded lettuce on top of the salsa.
  4. Add the shredded cheddar evenly over the salsa.
  5. Top with the chopped tomatoes.
  6. Add scallions.
  7. Add jalapeño slices.
  8. Top with black olives.

Serve with sturdy chips!! Eat some before it disappears!

It's going fast!

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Sparkling Sidecar

Well it’s my last post of 2010! Hard to believe a new year will begin in a few hours. It’s been quite a year for most of us and we’ve made it. Let’s hope that everyone has a wonderful, safe, healthy and prosperous New Year in 2011! Just be careful tonight if any of you are venturing outside into the ice and snow. Even if you are in warmer climates like I am please be careful and responsible if you go out tonight! I don’t want to lose any readers!! Enjoy and be merry but be safe!

So who isn’t going to be drinking champagne tonight? I know I will be sharing a bottle or two with my husband. Probably while in the hot tub! But try something a little different with this recipe. It sounded really cool and it’s got champagne in it! So how bad can it be! As someone once told us, don’t just have Champagne for the special occasions! Champagne is for every day of your life so drink it whenever you want! We do! So now on to the recipe so you can all go get any last-minute items you need and get ready to celebrate! I will be back next year! (Ha! corny I know!) And if cognac is not your thing try adding a little Chambord to your glass instead! Very tasty and festive!

Look how pretty this is!

INGREDIENTS:

2 ounces orange liqueur (such as Cointreau)

1 ounces Cognac

8 ounces chilled Cava (Spanish Sparkling Wine) If you can’t find Cava use any champagne or sparkling wine.

Lemon twist for garnish

DIRECTIONS:
Pour the orange liqueur and Cognac into 2 champagne glasses or flutes equally. Top with the Cava and squeeze the lemon twist over the glass and drop it in.

Makes 2 drinks. Adjust as needed!

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Gingerbread Cookie Martini

Well it’s Christmas Eve and I’m actually doing the blog before noon! I know! As far as cookies go I think Gingerbread People cookies are always associated with Christmas. So what better cocktail than a gingerbread martini! Once again this recipe uses Goldschlager so if you still have some left from the other martini recipes then you are good to go! This recipe calls for Van Gogh Espresso vodka but if you by chance have some Patron Coffee liqueur I am sure you can use that as well. So mix and be merry! Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas weekend! Remember the reason for the season is not about the presents or the food or the drinks…but for being with family and friends and celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. If it were up to me I’d leave my tree up 24/7/365!

Merry Christmas everyone!

INGREDIENTS:

3 ounces Van Gogh Espresso or Double Espresso Vodka (or any other brand)

1 ounce Goldschlager Cinnamon Schnapps

3 ounces Irish Cream (Baileys)

DIRECTIONS:

Pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Let it stand for a few seconds. Then shake vigorously for about 5 seconds and pour into chilled martini glasses!  Garnish with a gingersnap or gingerbread cookie if you wish!

Makes 2 drinks

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Brownie Holi-Pops

Well tomorrow is Christmas Eve! Wow where did the time go to? As a kid Christmas could not get here fast enough and now many years later, ok decades later, Christmas appears as if out of nowhere! It was just Halloween! My house is decked out, inside and out, and it is certainly festive looking! The weather is cooler, in the 50s and 60s so it’s not so hot that we do forget it’s winter here in south Florida. And I am still sticking with my no dieting till after the New Year. Weight Watchers can wait a little longer for me!

So here I am putting together the last “cookie” blog for the  year. These cookies are actually brownies, but also a lollipop. But hey, I’m using it anyway. I am not really a big brownie fan. Never was. Love making them but not eating them. The only ones I truly LOVE are my friend Debbie’s. They are little bitty ones and she puts frosting on them! I swear they must also have some kind of booze in them or something. They are so moist and just down right addicting! I could eat a dozen no problem! But these are not those. Sorry. I will have to get her recipe another time! These are just too cute not to include them and the kids will love them also. I have not actually made these as of yet but I think I will soon!

I actually got this recipe from Land-o-Lakes. Aren’t they just adorable!

BROWNIE MIXTURE:
¾ cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, divided

3 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate, divided

1 cup sugar

¾ cup all-purpose flour

2  eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup powdered sugar
COATING:
16 ounces vanilla or chocolate flavored candy coating (almond bark)
40 lollipop sticks
DECORATIONS:
Holiday nonpareils, jimmies, sprinkles and/or decorator candies. Your choice!

DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Combine ½ cup butter and 2 ounces chocolate in 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until melted (3 to 5 minutes). Add sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla and salt; mix well.

3. Spread batter evenly into greased 8-inch square baking pan. Bake for 23 to 27 minutes or until brownies just begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely.

4. Melt remaining ¼ cup butter and 1 ounce chocolate as above.

5. Finely crumble cooled brownie into large bowl. Add butter mixture and powdered sugar; mix well.

6. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls; place onto waxed paper-lined jelly roll pan. Cover with plastic food wrap; refrigerate until firm (at least 2 hours or overnight).

7. Melt candy coating according to package directions; keep warm.

8. Remove 1/3 of balls from refrigerator; insert lollipop sticks. Dip balls into melted coating, swirling or tapping off excess; press coated balls into desired decorations. Push lollipop stick into craft foam or place coated balls onto waxed paper. Repeat with remaining balls. Let stand until coating is set.

Makes 40 pops

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Christmas Baking Humor

Ok so it’s after midnight and I forgot to get the blog done for Monday. So now I am early for Tuesday! A friend just sent me this Holiday Cake recipe that I’ve gotten pretty much every year. I chuckled and then thought “Why don’t I put it on the blog as a nice stress reliever for the week!” So here it is. I know many of you have probably heard this but it’s a good one either way. And yes I know it’s straying from my cookie recipes but I promise to add one later today!  Enjoy!


INGREDIENTS:
2 cups flour                                            1 stick butter
1 cup water                                            1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar                                            1 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar                                 Lemon juice
4 large eggs
Nuts
2 bottles wine
2 cups dried fruit


DIRECTIONS:

Sample the wine to check quality.  Take a large bowl, check the wine again – to be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.  Repeat.  Turn on the electric mixer.  Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.  Add one teaspoon of sugar.  Beat again.  At this point it is best to make sure the wine is still OK.  Try another cup ….. just in case.  Turn off the mixerer thingy.  Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Pick the frigging fruit up off the floor.  Mix on the turner …. if the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver …. Sample the wine to check for tonsisticity.  Next sift two cups of salt …. or something.  Check the wine.  Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.  Add one table.  Add a spoon of sugar or some fink.  Whatever you can find.  Greash the oven.  Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.  Don’t forget to beat off the turner.  Finally throw the bowl through the window.  Finish the wine and wipe the counter with the cat.  Go to Walmart and buy a frigging cake.
Bingle Jells !!!!!!

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Butter Cookies

Christmas cookies wouldn’t be complete without the usual butter cookie. Some cookies are formed using a cookie gun or cookie cutters. This recipe mainly uses cookie cutters but if you want to use your smaller cookie maker go right ahead. These cookies are also frosted! They are easy to cut out and easy to make. Win win! Decorate them with colored sugars, sprinkles or anything you wish to make them festive!

I remember when we were kids there was a wonderful lady on our street who used to make the most incredible butter cookies. We’ve tried to recreate them over the years but they were just never the same. I will always think of her though when I make or eat butter cookies. Why is it when we try and recreate a recipe from childhood it just never quite tastes the same.

I found this recipe from Land O Lakes Butter. They called for “all-natural” eggs in the recipe but just use a regular egg. No big deal. Unless you don’t have to worry about money and can afford those fancy “all-natural” eggs. Also remember to make the dough ahead of time. It should be refrigerated 2-3 hours at least before cutting into cookie shapes.

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons orange juice

2½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup butter softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 tablespoons milk

food coloring if desired

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine 1 cup butter, sugar and egg in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until it is creamy.

2. Add the orange juice and vanilla and mix well. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed.

3. Divide dough into thirds. Wrap each in plastic food wrap and flatten slightly. Refrigerate until firm, about 2-3 hours.

4. Heat oven to 400º. Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface, one-third at a time, to 1/8-1/4-inch thickness. Keep remaining dough refrigerated. Cut with 3-inch cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookies sheets. Sprinkle with colored sugar if desired.

5. Bake for 6-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

6. If using the frosting combine powdered sugar, 1/3 cup butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla in small bowl. Beat at low-speed, scraping bowl often and gradually adding enough milk for desired spreading consistency. Tint with food color, if desired. Frost and decorate cooled cookies as you wish!

– If you use a 4 to 5-inch cookie cutter the recipe will make about 2 dozen cookies

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